Above: Joe Camacho (photo courtesy Latino Outdoors).

latino-outdoors-logo-smallJoe Camacho debunks the myth that Latinos don’t care about the outdoors. Vivana Reyes finds “green therapy” on Girl Scout hikes with her daughter, Vida. Ronald Quintero gets into mountaineering, starting on Mount Shasta.

Those are just some of the stories that Latino Outdoors is sharing at Recreation.gov to help celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15.

National Hispanic Heritage Month falls in a somewhat unconventional span of two different months because Sept. 15 is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. On Oct. 12, Día de la Raza (aka, Columbus Day) also falls within this 30-day period.

(NOTE: Clicking on an image launches a larger-sized viewer).

“Our goal is to encourage members of our community, especially any who have experienced the great outdoors for the first time, to share their stories of a particularly challenging hike, seeing wildlife at a refuge, or maybe what it felt like to sleep in a tent for the first time,” said Jose Gonzalez, founder of Latino Outdoors. “By telling our stories, the community helps define what it means to have a Latino/Latina identity in relation to the outdoors. Stories have power and they say many things about the cultural traditions and values we hold—especially our love and connections with our open spaces.

Latino Outdoors is a network of leaders committed to engaging Latinos and Latinas in the outdoors, connecting familias and youth with nature, and empowering their community of storytellers to explore and share their personal experiences. Recreation One-Stop, which operates Recreation.gov, is a recreation trip-planning, reservation and information sharing platform for the nation’s federal lands, including those managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, National Archives and Records Administration, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

On Sept. 15, Recreation.gov started featuring experiences from volunteer Latino Outdoor Ambassadors from across the country. Visitors are encouraged to join Recreation.gov through Facebook and Instagram and share stories, photos or videos of their outdoor experiences using #LatinoOutdoors.

The Latino Outdoors stories can be found here.

“By working with Latino Outdoors, we can bring more attention to a network of conservation-minded explorers who share their passion for the outdoors,” Recreation-One program manager Rick DeLappe said. “Their stories are contagious – inspiring stewardship and exploration of our federal lands and waterways.”